Many writers like to claim that writing is hard. For example, in an oft-quoted statement, William Zinsser declared: "If you find that writing is hard, it's because it is hard. It's one of the hardest things that people do."

The statement has flair. That's why people like to quote it. I've quoted it in writing classes. The statement is dramatic. It makes students take notice. Maybe it helps them take the class seriously, if they've had trouble with that. The statement helps us feel good about the work we writers have to do. It gives us a way to protect our professional territory from people who might want to try their hand at writing. And it's partly true. But only partly.

For the first month

This writing activity comes from There and Back (republished as The Baron's Apprenticeship) a novel by George MacDonald. It will help you develop your writing skills as well as your observation skills.